The Cost of Pandemic Field Hospitals

WPRI’s Melanie DaSilva and Shiina LoSciuto report that COVID-19 field hospitals in Cranston and at the Convention center are being taken offline due to the waning pandemic:

The last day of patient care at the Rhode Island Convention Center will be Friday, Feb. 26, according to the Health Department, while the Cranston site is expected to shut down within the next two to three weeks. …

Health officials say since the field hospitals opened, they’ve treated a total of 516 patients.

That officials feel able to close these two hospitals is certainly good news, but WPRI leaves unreported the context of their cost.  For that, we have to turn to Brian Crandall of WJAR:

The state is paying nearly $1 million per month in leases for the two facilities.

Plus, the state paid nearly $22 million to build the field hospitals, including one in Quonset that was never used. …

The Rhode Island Department of Administration figures monthly operating costs of the field hospitals at $3.6 million a month with patients and $1.25 million if they were ready but not seeing patients.

That figure does not include health care costs.

So let’s do the math.  The hospitals opened at the end of November, so they’ve been open for three months with patients.  That’s $3 million in lease payments plus $10.8 million in operating costs plus $22 million to build them.  That totals $35.8 million, which equates to $69,380 per patient.

Granted, according to Crandall, federal stimulus money covered those expenses through 2020.  Moreover, government officials should not become reluctant to prepare based on undue political risks should things turn out better than feared and the preparations look wasteful in retrospect.

That said, in an environment where fear has arguably been promoted beyond what the pandemic justified, the costs of preparation for the worst have to be added to the tally.


Featured image by Tonic.

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